WITH WHOM YOU CAN BE WHO YOU ARE
Ultimately the secret lies in the integration. It is one thing to put improvising and non-improvising musicians in the same room; another to avoid one group sounding like a river, while the other sounds merely like the banks. In his first attempt at writing for a string trio Tim Stevens has succeeded superbly at allowing the banks to slide into the river, if you will. Part of his secret was not over-writing: the violin (Madeleine Jevons), viola (Phoebe Green and cello (Naomi Wileman) often slip in and out, as if offering commentary on the piano (Stevens), bass (Marty Holoubek) and drums (Tony Floyd), rather than just providing frameworks within which the improvising occurs.
He has also shaped the compositions within this seven-part suite with more sophistication than a head-solos-head format, so that there are notated dialogues between the two trios (notably on m.b.), as well as accompanying of solos. The pervading mood is elegiac, like a series of bittersweet memories of lost love, with brighter sparks sometimes flaring from the piano. The strings are especially effective against the bass solos – suggesting they could have also been used to shade some drum features.